Boom for digital-TV devices

Digital-TV signal receivers will be sold next month in a variety of devices including set-top boxes, tablet TVs and car-installed TV screens.

Thanongsak Sukhanindr, the acting director for mobile-TV and internet-protocol TV at the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), said the successful auctions of 24 digital-TV channels are triggering higher competition in the broadcasting industry.

The 24 winners must broadcast their TV programmes within 30 days of the official announcement of the winners, meaning by early next month.

The total comprises seven each for standard-definition variety shows, high-definition variety shows and news channels and three children's channels.

Makers of terrestrial signal receivers will start ramping up their marketing activities about the time of the first digital broadcasts in early February.

The NBTC has so far approved 65 TV models with built-in signal converters from six brands _ two models from Sharp, 13 from Panasonic, 15 from LG, 13 from Sony, three from Provision and 19 from Samsung.

The regulator also approved 34 set-top box models provided by major local satellite-TV operators GMM Z, Samart, IPM and Leotech along with Chinese set-top box makers.

Moreover, makers of functional devices such as tablet TVs and car-installed TV screens are seeking NBTC approval.

Tablet TVs have 8-10-inch screens and a TV tuner for terrestrial broadcasts.

Some makers have introduced a hybrid function for tablet TVs, allowing viewers to receive digital broadcasting signals while using the device as a handheld computer.

A source from MCOT Plc, the operator of Channel 9, said the company will make its own tablet TVs in collaboration with a TV-set maker.

Some car-installed electrical appliance makers have submitted self-declaration forms to the NBTC for car-installed TV screens.

NBTC lab tests show car-installed screens can receive terrestrial digital signals at speeds of up to 80 kilometres an hour.

Digital signals are now airing during trials in Greater Bangkok and major provinces such as Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and Songkhla.

Mr Thanongsak called the car-installed TV-screen market "interesting" since many car owners want to install TVs in their vehicles.

However, there are concerns that Chinese set-top box makers may be about to dump cheap products in the local market.

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